It's the most frustrating part of being a creative maker of anything. It happens to me every year when school starts up again. The job starts to consume every ounce of energy that I have. By the time I get home, I'm couched. My guitar sits in the corner sulking and a wave of guilt washes over me. Writer's block has come once again.
I'm still trying to figure out a solution for this. I've tried reading random articles, taking a walk, stream-of-consciousness writing, and now...blogging! But it's like I can't refill the energy that is expended on my day job. Song ideas and riffs float around in my head, beating against the corners of my mind like dazed flies on a window pane.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting John Craigie at a workshop for musicians in Fort Collins. John Craigie is a folk singer/songwriter from Oregon. I recently got into his music last summer after I heard "I Wrote Mr. Tambourine Man". His style and humor instantly hooked me.
At the workshop, John talked about making covers your own and using covers as a way to get you out of your funk. He said something along the lines of "It's our responsibility to not produce a direct copy of someone's work, but instead do it in the way that makes you you."
I really appreciated this philosophy. I don't often learn covers because I usually find them boring at live shows. Even if they are done well, it doesn't add anything to the show or the song. It always feels like a cheap grab for the audience's attention. However, when you hear that cover that really is stripped down to emphasize the feeling and lyrics of the song, those make me get shivers.
Songs like Ben Howard's cover of Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark".
It's a beautiful song that really captures the forlorn feeling of the lyrics...better than the rock anthem that Springsteen did for the original tune.
Since then, I have been trying to learn more songs from other artists and strip them down to their bare essence. One of my favorite covers I've arranged and made my own is a mash-up between The Beatles' "Oh Darling" and a hidden-gem from John Mayer called "I'm Going to Find Another You". I'll put the link here for you to take a listen.
Hopefully by playing with these covers and making them my own, something will spark and I will be able to start writing new content again!